The virtual world is an oyster, and businesses are rebuilding their digital strategy before entering the maze of the metaverse.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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The virtual world is an oyster, and businesses are rebuilding their digital strategy before entering the maze of the metaverse.

Tomorrowland is here among us, and it’s no longer science fiction. With the vast success of Marvel, Disney and numerous sci-fi movies showcasing alternate universes or multiverses, there is no doubt that humanity deeply desires to augment its reality. What’s more symbolic for people than a wedding being conducted on the metaverse? India peeked into an alternate reality as a couple in Tamil Nadu conducted a wedding inviting 500 guests on the metaverse. Daler Mehndi recently performed on Republic Day, much to the delight of fans starved of music concerts since the pandemic ensued.

Demystifying the metaverse and its components

The metaverse is a three-dimensional universe that will be interconnected with virtual spaces as easily as one does in the real world. From attending a music concert, getting married, travelling or even banking, all can be done in tailor-made virtual spaces created by businesses. And the fundamental element to this technology, which distinguishes it from the internet, is blockchain.

Taking a deep dive into the evolution of this technology and how it fits in our world, one needs to understand where the foundation of the metaverse will be, the answer is in Web 3.0. Yes, its an evolution of the information highway that everyone tapped into with AOL, Google, Yahoo etc, in its Web 1.0 version. Following that Web 2.0 was characterized by social media platforms enabling advertising using data by firms like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok etc.

Web 3.0 will nonetheless, be a step ahead and support the user-owned crypto data and assets using the veritable applications under blockchain technology.

So why are governments moving headlong into the metaverse with digital currencies, followed by banks and financial services? Undoubtedly, transactions via NFTs, and other digital currencies will be tracked on the Web 3.0 as they can easily track all data from digital to real assets. Hence, cryptocurrencies and NFTs will enable businesses to function seamlessly in the metaverse. Yet, enhancing cloud technology is at the core needed to address the power and storage required to support extended reality and immersive interfaces.

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Tech experts believe that the metaverse is a much-needed solution for people in a pandemic-ridden world, and businesses are not too far from realizing that eventuality. Until recently, industry experts suggested that the metaverse market may reach over $800 million in a couple of years. Yet, some quarters suggest that the metaverse may be a fad that will take a while to be adopted by all industries and regions. Others, like Gartner, believe that around 25% of people will spend around an hour at least conducting basic activities from education to shopping, from banking to work. Currently, it’s a wait-and-watch game to see how fast big firms adopt metaverse into their business model. Yet, an insight into the real advantages of investing in the metaverse may be needed not just from a cost-benefit point of view, but as a strategy for the future.

Twinning in the virtual world

Apart from the Indian government’s plan to launch a digital currency, the NYSE has recently plans to launch its own metaverse. JPMorgan, the largest lender in the US, became the world’s first bank to enter the metaverse. Its Onyx’ lounge will give its customers an immersive experience. Fashion brands and other retailers are marketing themselves as early adopters of the metaverse. Yet, the question remains, will average or mid-sized, and small companies benefit greatly. Most traditional businesses will rapidly see the rise in practical applications with the soon-to-be easy available metaverse hardware and the software needed to create digital twins. For instance, manufacturing firms will mitigate risks and fix problems instantly despite their location, using their hologram via mixed reality setups. It’s easy to spot the advantage here, greater efficiency, reduced costs and business continuity, without travelling physically.

Surfing the metaverse

Metaverse is a digital advancement that merges the digital and physical worlds, not a new phenomenon for gamers and gaming companies like Roblox, Fortnite and the online world Second Life. Today, we find Facebook coining the term ‘Metamates’ for its employees, indicating the future of the firm would be in the virtual world. While Disney has hired a new executive Mike White to oversee the metaverse strategy, Microsoft made a down payment of $69 billion for Activision Blizzard as a big tech, metaverse push. Yet, although CEO Satya Nadella, calls it just games, its serious business for brands like Gucci, who apart from unveiling their virtual garden, earned $25,000 via a fashion film as an NFT through Christie’s titled ‘PROOF OF SOVEREIGNTY: A Curated NFT Sale by Lady PheOnix’. Others like Louis Vuitton released various hidden NFTs via ‘Louis the Game’ commemorating the luxury brand’s founder, Burberry decided to collaborate with the gaming sector in its ‘Blankos Block Party.’

It is no doubt that other sectors such as healthcare and manufacturing will gradually deem this space as beneficial. Firms like MetDojo give further convenience of renting a metaverse. Ready-to-use models of the 3D universe that can be easily deployed on websites can be the future for all industries.

Future of Metaverse in India

Digital privacy, cybersecurity, regulatory compliance, brand reputation and anti-fraud challenges are just a few milestones to gain trust amongst shareholders, employees, regulators, and customers. In India, despite this, people went headlong into the metaverse, beginning with weddings. Wavemaker India, Matrimony.com and ITC Ltd recently collaborated to conduct an Indian wedding via an app Yug. With Mark Zuckerberg admitting that India will be the largest app developer for the metaverse, there have been a slew of Indian IT firms keen on this venture.

All firms will need to relook their digital strategy to woo customers and shareholders alike. At the end of the day, its all about the ultimate customer experience that wins hearts and raises profit margins. In that respect, everyone is free and safe to enjoy surfing and virtual-world hopping in metaverse, whether in India, or abroad.

 

-Anupama Sughosh

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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